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Performance Tuning Windows 2012: Storage Subsystem | Part 4

It is important to consider including multiple tiers of devices into a storage deployment

Stripe Unit Size
In part 4 of the storage subsystem, we’ll provide some guidelines for selecting the stripe-size unit for your selected storage solution. Hardware-managed arrays allow stripe unit sizes ranging from 4 KB to more than 1 MB. The ideal stripe unit size maximizes the disk activity without unnecessarily breaking up requests by requiring multiple disks to service a single request. For example, consider the following:

  • One long stream of sequential requests on a JBOD configuration uses only one disk at a time. To keep all striped disks in use for such a workload, the stripe unit should be at least 1/n where n is the request size.
  • For n streams of small serialized random requests, if n is significantly greater than the number of disks and if there are no hot spots, striping does not increase performance over a JBOD configuration. However, if hot spots exist, the stripe unit size must maximize the possibility that a request will not be split while it minimizes the possibility of a hot spot falling entirely within one or two stripe units. You might choose a low multiple of the typical request size, such as five times or ten times, especially if the requests are aligned on some boundary (for example, 4 KB or 8 KB).
  • If requests are large, and the average or peak number of outstanding requests is smaller than the number of disks, you might need to split some requests across disks so that all disks are being used. You can interpolate an appropriate stripe unit size from the previous two examples. For example, if you have 10 disks and 5 streams of requests, split each request in half (that is, use a stripe unit size equal to half the request size). Note that this assumes some consistency in alignment between the request boundaries and the stripe unit boundaries.
  • Optimal stripe unit size increases with concurrency and typical request sizes.
  • Optimal stripe unit size decreases with sequentiality and with good alignment between data boundaries and stripe unit boundaries.

Volume Layout
Using separate volumes for individual workloads can have some advantges. You can use one volume for the operating system or paging space and one or more volumes for shared user data, applications, and log files. The benefits include fault isolation, easier capacity planning, and easier performance analysis.

You can place different types of workloads into separate volumes on different physical disks. Using separate disks is especially important for any workload that creates heavy sequential loads (such as log files), where a single set of physical disks can be dedicated to handling the updates to the log files. Placing the page file on a separate virtual disk might provide some improvements in performance during periods of high paging.

There is also an advantage to combining workloads on the same physical disks, if the disks do not experience high activity over the same time period. This is basically the partnering of hot data with cold data on the same physical drives.

The “first” partition on a volume that is utilizing hard disks usually uses the outermost tracks of the underlying disks, and therefore it provides better performance. Obviously, this guidance does not apply to solid-state storage.

Choosing and Designing Storage Tiers
With the cost of solid state devices dropping, it is important to consider including multiple tiers of devices into a storage deployment to achieve better balance between performance, cost, and energy consumption. Traditional storage arrays offer the ability to aggregate and tier heterogenous storage, but Storage Spaces provides a more robust implementation.

Our next and final part of the storage subsystem in Windows Server 2012 discusses the Storage Related Performance Counters.

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More Stories By Hovhannes Avoyan

Hovhannes Avoyan is the CEO of Monitis, Inc., a provider of on-demand systems management and monitoring software to 50,000 users spanning small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to Monitis, he served as General Manager and Director of Development at prominent web portal Lycos Europe, where he grew the Lycos Armenia group from 30 people to over 200, making it the company's largest development center. Prior to Lycos, Avoyan was VP of Technology at Brience, Inc. (based in San Francisco and acquired by Syniverse), which delivered mobile internet content solutions to companies like Cisco, Ingram Micro, Washington Mutual, Wyndham Hotels , T-Mobile , and CNN. Prior to that, he served as the founder and CEO of CEDIT ltd., which was acquired by Brience. A 24 year veteran of the software industry, he also runs Sourcio cjsc, an IT consulting company and startup incubator specializing in web 2.0 products and open-source technologies.

Hovhannes is a senior lecturer at the American Univeristy of Armenia and has been a visiting lecturer at San Francisco State University. He is a graduate of Bertelsmann University.